CCAA was established in 1997 by Dr. Uli Sigg, the leading collector of Chinese contemporary art. Established as an independent non-profit entity, CCAA’s purpose is to give awards to Chinese artists and art critics who show outstanding achievement in artistic creation, and in its analysis and critique. CCAA encourages their development and enhances awareness and appreciation to a wider public for what Chinese art contributes to contemporary Chinese culture. CCAA also promotes knowledge about contemporary art through publications and exhibitions that accompany the awards.
First time awarded in 1998 and then in two year intervals, the CCAA has since become an institution of significance for the Chinese art scene, with the CCAA winners becoming well recognized also by the international art world. CCAA has widely promoted Chinese contemporary art internationally and built a bridge between the Chinese artists and the international art world already at a time when contemporary art was largely an underground phenomenon in China. Essential for the success of CCAA are the high profiled jury members and the CCAA directors – international and Chinese in equal number – who have then worked into their own projects much of what they saw in the jury meetings.
Since 2000, Chinese contemporary art has been ever more reported, exhibited and collected internationally. CCAA considers it equally important to evoke more public attention within China .And at a time when Chinese art appears to be validated almost exclusively by market forces, an unexcited and deliberate reflection of the present art production such as CCAA provides through its exhibitions, publications and other activities, is very much in need.
To further balance these market forces and educate a rapidly growing audience that casts an eye on or is willing to invest in Chinese contemporary art, stronger institutional support is essential. One such ingredient in any developing art operating system is independent analysis and critique. To bring that issue more into public focus, the biennial CCAA Art Critic Award has been established in 2007.
Since the first awards in 1998, CCAA has continuously developed its format. Currently there are three CCAA categories for artists: Award for Life Time Achievement, then Award for Best Artist and Award for Best Young Artist (both judged for their accomplishments in the two year interval between awards). The winners of these awards are provided with a mix of price money, a production budget or opportunity for an exhibition and a catalogue. For the winner of the Art Critic Award funds are provided for research of a specific topic selected by an expert jury, and for a subsequent publication of this research.
Uli Sigg, born 1946, grew up in Switzerland. He completed his studies with a Ph.D. in law. He then worked as journalist and editor for various Swiss newspapers and magazines. From 1977 to 1990 he joined the Schindler Group where he held positions as Area Manager for Asia Pacific and later Member of the Group Executive Committee and Shareholders Board. He established in 1980 the first Joint Venture between China and the West and remained its Vice Chairman for ten years. He then served on the boards of a number of global companies till 1995 the Swiss federal government appointed him for four years ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia. Upon his return to Switzerland he again assumed the chairmanship or board membership of several multinational companies. Presently he also serves as member of the Advisory Board of China Development Bank and other Chinese entities. He is advisor to Herzog&deMeuron Architects whom he brought to China and coached in building the Beijing Olympic Stadium.
He spent altogether many years in China, following the opening up of China and its contemporary art scene from day one. As collector of formerly Western contemporary art he now has formed the most substantial collection of contemporary Chinese art in the world. He also established 1997 the Chinese Contemporary Art Award, an art award for Chinese contemporary artists and for art critics. He is a member of the International Council of New York MOMA and member of the executive committee of the International Advisory Council of Tate Gallery, London.
“It is hard to imagine in today’s hype: When I established CCAA in 1997, Chinese contemporary art was still a kind of semi-underground phenomenon, known to few – inside and outside China. At that time my purpose was to give encouragement to artists with particular talent, to enhance awareness of a largely uninterested Chinese public and to bring prominent international curators to the Chinese art scene they largely ignored…and thus to give an impulse to the nascent art operating system of China.
The CCAA awards have since greatly contributed to the fundamental changes in the perception and to the success of Chinese contemporary art in China and abroad.
Still, the debate as to what constitutes meaningful art in China and what does not, remains at the core of the CCAA activities. Particularly at a time when the market is the dominant force to validate artworks, an institution such as the CCAA plays an important role. To balance and to enrich this debate, the controversy brought about by CCAA’s choices is highly desirable!”
Liu Li Anna
-Born in Beijing China
-Living and working in Beijing and Hong Kong
-MBA of UWCN, UK. HK
-Founder and former President of Beijing L&C Advertising Company and Flamingo
Cultural Communication Co., Ltd. established in 1995
-Founder and Chairman of Xue Qian Foundation established in 2000
-Partner and Director of China Region, Virgin Ventures Inc. since 2004
-Participant and curator of a series of art exhibitions and activities in China and Europe since 2005
It’s my pleasure to act as Director of Chinese Contemporary Art Awards. In a talk last year I was moved by the motive and purpose of setting this award by Mr. Sigg. As the most important collector of Chinese Contemporary art, Mr. Sigg has been devoting himself to financial and academic support for Chinese artists and critics for years and to connecting Chinese contemporary art with the world in his unique way. There are too many art awards appearing in China these years. However most important for the first award set for art critics are academic positioning and clear appraisal principle. Where are Chinese critics? What is a good critic essay? Where does the independent, profound and sharp commenting thought come from? Such issues need a platform to allow a wider public to discuss and to think about. The founding principle of this award is finding real independent thought and encouraging diverse thinking methods. We hope the setting of this award in CCAA can contribute to richer Chinese art forms and deeper, more independent art critique.